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Society Applauds Senate Passage of Caregiver Bill

December 18, 2015

On December 8, the U.S. Senate passed by unanimous consent the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act (S. 1719). This bipartisan legislation led by Senators Collins of Maine with original cosponsors Sens. Baldwin (WI), Ayotte (NH), Bennet (CO) and Mikulski (MD) would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop, maintain and update an integrated national strategy to recognize and better support our nation’s family caregivers.

Forty-three million family caregivers provide a vast majority of our nation’s long-term care, permitting individuals including those with multiple sclerosis (MS) to remain in their communities and avoid or delay nursing home or foster care placements. AARP has estimated that family caregivers provide $470 billion in uncompensated care annually, a staggering statistic that exceeds annual federal and state spending on Medicaid health services and long-term services and supports. While the benefits of family caregiving are plentiful, caregiving can take its toll. Caregivers of people with MS spend about 24 hours a week providing care. Of these caregivers, 64% are emotionally drained, 32% experience depression and 22% have lost a job due to caregiving responsibilities.

The National MS Society applauds the U.S. Senate for passing the RAISE Act and working to give our nation’s family caregivers the support they deserve and need. The legislation is supported by nearly 50 national organizations including AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, Easter Seals, the National Respite Coalition and the Paralyzed Veterans Association. There is a companion bill in the House of Representatives (H.R. 3099) led by Reps. Gregg Harper (MS-3), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1) and Diane Black (TN-6).

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

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